BBC Two has ordered The Last Kingdom, an eight episode Viking drama from Stephen Butchard and Carnival Films which is being co-produced by BBC America.
The Last Kingdom is set in the year 872 when many of the separate kingdoms of England have fallen to the invading Vikings, with only the great kingdom of Wessex left standing and defiant under the command of King Alfred the Great. The drama follows Uhtred, the son of a Saxon nobleman who is orphaned by the Vikings and then kidnapped and raised as one of their own. He finds his loyalties tested and must choose between the country of his birth and the people of his upbringing.
The series is based on Bernard Cornwell’s best-selling franchise The Saxon Stories and is being adapted for television by Good Cop scribe Stephen Butchard. Downton Abbey producers Carnival Films are producing The Last Kingdom, which the BBC said would combine real historical figures and events with fictional characters. Chrissy Skinns is set to produce, while Gareth Neame, Nigel Marchant and Stephen Butchard are the executive producers. Prey helmer Nick Murphy is attached to direct.
“Cornwell’s Saxon novels combine historical figures and events with fiction in an utterly compelling way,” said Carnival Films’ Gareth Neame. “In the hands of Stephen Butchard we believe it will make original and engrossing television drama. In part the epic quest of our hero Uhtred, it is also a fascinating re-telling of the tale of King Alfred the Great and how he united the many separate kingdoms on this island into what would become England.”
Ben Stephenson, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning, commented: “I hope The Last Kingdom will expand BBC Two’s distinctive portfolio of drama. It’s an epic narrative with an extraordinary creative team. It will feel like nothing else on television, with all of the scale and intrigue of the best fantasy stories but the reality of fact.”
While BBC Two Controller Kim Shillinglaw added: “BBC Two has a great reputation for distinctive, surprising drama – I’m delighted we are doing The Last Kingdom, an epic piece from a highly regarded creative team.”